Project management for universities involves a set of unique challenges. Their projects are diverse, ranging from business and IT, to construction and maintenance. They also have responsibilities to stakeholders. In addition, they have extensive approval and compliance processes. As a result, project portfolio managers can experience poor visibility and control when monitoring performance.

Federation University, based in Ballarat, Victoria, is no exception. The university sought out a PPM solution and selected pmo365 to manage a large and complex portfolio. After implementation, it has experienced smooth and coherent project management, with real-time data and a single ‘source of truth’, more efficient project scheduling, and better alignment of its portfolio to the university’s strategic goals.

A Single, Cohesive ‘Source of Truth’

The issue of poor ‘visibility’ seems to plague project management for universities. In order to track the demand on resources, universities often use an ERP solution like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics, which store financial and accounting information.

Yet, these platforms are often disconnected from the project management program. That means that there is an enormous administrative burden on project portfolio management to gather the relevant data for reporting. Data is often twice: first into the project management application, and then into the financial and accounting software.

Instead, pmo365 integrates existing applications seamlessly. Data is routed directly to the Power Platform from almost any Microsoft or non-Microsoft app. Real-time updates across the platform eliminates lag and lets you synthesise reports and dashboards from a single source of truth.

Pipeline Project Management for Universities

Federation University’s pmo365 solution was deployed over just four months in 2019. The first project portfolio report was generated a few months later. According to its PMO, Project Managers liked having “consistent reporting across all the I.T. and business projects… and started to see new opportunities around concepts.”

In particular, the University benefited from using pmo365‘s project pipeline management tools to capture concepts and nuture initiatives. Before pmo365, projects could be started without having been approved by senior management or finance teams. But, by using the pipeline capability of pmo365, project approvals not only began to work more cohesively, but the projects with the most value to the organisation were being prioritised.

Meeting New Project Portfolio Management Challenges

By the end of 2020, Federation University had expanded their use of pmo365. They now have two portfolios of activity: one dedicated to I.T. and business projects, and another for construction and facility management. Federation University asked pmo365 to develop their solution to support an investment conceptualisation process across all projects. This more closely aligned the management of projects with the university’s programs and, in turn, to its key strategic objectives.

This iteration went live in June 2021, and was an immediate success, resulting in significantly better visibility and control. It was so seamless that the vice-chancellor’s team did not notice that their reports were now being delivered by a different system.

Importantly, it allowed project portfolio managers to view concepts and their approval status on a single dashboard. The concepts page offers an overview of the organisation’s allocation of resources. It also presents a table capturing ideas, benefits, time-frame, expected expenditures, and approval status.

Each concept includes essential information like the level of funding and capital required, operational cost, and additional software purchases which are aggregated into totals.

As a result, Federation University’s project management team are well across all their potential projects and the resources they will require. This helps them to make more informed decisions about when to start a project.

Customised Project Management for Universities

pmo365‘s customised project dashboard was a game changer for Federation University. The landing page lists all current projects, and details project type, system code, current phase, description, portfolio, program, sponsor, owner, and dates of completion. From there, project managers access all the relevant information and tools relating to individual projects in one place.

Project managers have particularly enjoyed the easy, user-oriented interface. For example, every project is assigned a traffic light colour to indicate project health, which changes as new status updates are submitted. There are also tools to directly update project dependencies, RAID Logs, stakeholders, change requests, benefits, lessons learned, and endorsements or approvals.

With an integrated project management system across all its portfolios, it has gained:

  • Daily financial updates, so actuals are updated with frequency.
  • Reportable task types, so project managers only have to update on required tasks.
  • Stakeholder management, which identifies their type, impact on the project, and preferred communication methods.
  • ‘A single source of truth’, so data only needs to be entered once. Concept-stage budgets and risks, for example, are automatically carried over to the project initiation and delivery stages.
  • Resource management, so resources can be requested and approved directly within the system.
  • Efficient processes with projects, concepts, funding, and stakeholders all linked into the one program management system.
  • Integrated software, with all data from every department and device linked to a central data management service.

Make it Your Own

pmo365 is deployed to the university’s own Microsoft Power Platform, which has over 900 connectors to other applications that serve project management for universities. Rapid development of solutions like these are available for any organisation engaged in large project management portfolios. Continuous and customised development is now possible with just one monthly subscription payment. There are no up-front fees, no development from scratch, and everything is owned by you on your Microsoft 365 cloud tenancy.

To see how pmo365 can benefit your organisation, book a free demo today.

Dan Stopher